Suspect said, ‘I couldn’t control my sexual desire’
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Victim had loaned money to the suspect, police said
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One of the most important dates in Japan’s lunar calendar, every February 3, Setsubun marks the beginning of Spring. It is a time of ‘out with the old and in with the new .’ This metaphorical idea’s literal representation is someone dressing up as an ‘oni’ [demon] and being chased out of the house under threat of being pelted by soybeans. Once the evil is gone, allowing good luck to enter the home, everyone gets stuck into some ‘eho-maki’ [uncut cylindrical sushi rolls].
But, while these are the best known Setsubun customs, there are numerous other centuries-old traditions, particularly coming from Kyoto, Japan’s historical capital of culture. These include elaborate ‘ghost’ hairstyles, as well as lots of dressing up, with older women donning fineries above their station, and men clothing themselves in female attire and women wearing men’s garments (this was a time when rigid class and gender rules were fastidiously adhered to). It was believed that visiting shrines and temples when dressed in this way could eradicate one’s troubles, and it frequently led to an atmosphere akin to The Carnival of Venice or modern day Hallowe’en.
Replicating this tradition, Ryotei Kawabun, one of Nagoya’s oldest (and fanciest) restaurants holds an annual event, the Kawabun Setsabun Festival, with a fun and slightly ribald kabuki-esque performance and ‘setsubun ghost hairstyling’…
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Japanese cuisine is well known for its delicate flavors, subtlety, and exquisite fragility. However, here in Aichi, we do things differently, and the local food is famed for its full-flavor, richness, and piquancy. When it comes to breakfast, Aichi differs noticeably from the rest of the nation. While the rest of the nation is starting the day with miso soup, tamago gohan, and natto, Aichi folk are heading out to their favorite cafes to enjoy ‘Morning,’ and perhaps the best to be found is in Ichinomiya, a short JR train ride from Nagoya…
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When Andy Williams sang of Christmas that It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, he was talking out of his backside. And not just because Christmas is a bloody nightmare (bah humbug, and all that) but because the most wonderful time of the year in Nagoya is spring. Yes, you can keep your ‘marshmallows for toasting’ and ‘much mistltoeing’, nothing beats the time when the cherry blossoms bloom and we gather with friends, families and co-workers to eat, drink and be merry, not under the fir tree, but the sakura. Oh, there’s nothing quite like a hanami party.
However, these are strange times in which we are now living, and in order to slow the further outbreak of the COVID-19 virus, hanami has been cancelled. If you have visited a park over the past few days, you may have seen signs like this one below, that basically say that it’s okay to wander around and enjoy the cherry blossoms, but gathering in large groups, eating and getting drunk is a big no-no. For the most part these have been adhered to, but with restricted access to Nagoya’s amazing sakura spots – from Meijo Koen to Tsurumai Koen to Yamazaki River – depriving us of this great time to hang out together, particularly if this is your first time to experience the season, it’s a bit of a bummer. Yes, in the grand scheme of things it’s not exactly the end of the world, and many people out there are dealing with far greater issues. But hey, it’s still okay to be a bit gutted about it.
Though with that said, seeing how things are unfolding around the world, we shou be more socially responsible (and I’m especially talking to you, the big group of gaijin I saw in Meijo Koen on Sunday, ignoring the signs and getting trollied). However, that doesn’t mean that we have to give up on the celebrations altogether. We’ve just got to get a bit more creative about it. It’s time for some HanaOnNomi.
Yes, I know what you’re thinking. HanaOnNomi? Sounds like some new bubble tea shop in Osu. But no. It’s actually a phrase that I have part coined and part pilfered from a craze that is currently being enjoyed by some of the more responsible folks in Japan in these worrying times (and yes, despite all evidence to the contrary, they are out there). OnNomi [オン飲み] comes from ONline and NOMImasu [drink] and is basically people getting together to booze up on social networking platforms. You’ve probably seen friends back home in lockdown doing similar things, but even though bars and restaurants are still open here (at the time of writing, though who knows what’ll happen the moment I press ‘publish’), some Japanese are taking it upon themselves to be prepared. So why don’t you?
What you need for your own HanaOnNomi
For starters, you’ll need some mates with whom to drink, but that’s generally not a problem for you, right? You’re all cool guys and gals out there in Nagland, aren’t you. Oh, you’ve just arrived and haven’t met anyone yet? Well I’m sure that’s no problem. There are loads of social groups and forums out there for you to drum up some new pals – heck, why not drop a line in the comments for this article and see who’s keen? Just be careful about who you get chatting with as there are some weird folks out there on them internets. But you don’t need me to tell you that.
So, you’ve got your mates lined up, now all you have to do is get them all in one (cyber)space. Fortunately, right now there are absolutely tonnes of video conferencing apps for your phone, tablet or iPod, many of which are free to download. In fact, it’s probably one of the only boom industries in this ‘new normal’ world in which we are living.
The one that has proven most popular so far is Zoom, which is available for both IOS or android and can host up to 100 people. Then there is good old Skype, which holds up to 50, and for smaller gatherings of up to eight you could use Houseparty, which gives you the option to play games and quizzes if the conversation starts to lull.
Food and Drink
At the start of this OmNomi craze, people thought it was oh so hilarious to drink bottles of Corona, but as the worldwide death toll rises, that’s starting to look a little less funny. Besides, it’s a crap beer. Now, of course you could just pop to the conbini and pick up snacks and cans, but hey, this is a party. Why not get some decent stuff and also help out your local community?
Craft beer specialists Hopbuds are currently still open for takeaway and have the largest selection of fancy suds in the city. On the grub side of things, Coat of Arms has an extensive menu for takeaway including their steaks and burgers, and there is talk of a 20 percent off campaign for many items on the menu, while Midtown BBQ are doing delivery and takeaway on both their food and draft craft beer through Uber Eats. And vegans and veggies need not be left out of the party, because Queen’s Healthy Diner also does takeaway pizza, karaage and their frankly amazing burritos (just make sure you give them a call beforehand). And if those options don’t float your boat, why not just pop down to your favourite hole-in-the-wall yakitori or izakaya with a Tupperware box and ask nicely. They may be happy for the business.
Right there you’ve got all the ingredients for an amazing HanaOnNomi party, so just because you’re being socially responsible it doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun too. Next grab a pot plant (it needn’t be sakura, any flower will do) or even just wear something pink, and get stuck in.
Back in the day, when I was embarking on this writing game, I imposed three cardinal rules upon myself: 1. Only write about cool bands; 2. Never write bullsh!t advertisements for brands that you don’t believe in for the man; 3. Never cut your hair shorter than your earlobes. You see, I was like Richie Edwards, 4 Real. Not that I liked the Manic Street Preachers, of course. No, they were way too mainstream, man.
And where do I stand on those rules now? Well, number three was ruined by my gene pool (and may you forever burn, great-uncle John, the only other bald member in my entire extended family) and number one… Well, there’s not much to write about Belle & Sebastian, Hefner, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor nowadays.
But as for shilling, no way. To this day, I only (well, mostly) write about cool places. This is why you can (mostly) trust me when I tell you that places are tops and are definitely worth visiting. That the places below have connections to the community here should most definitely not put you off because they are all ace (most definitely).
Something of a regular haunt for us at Japan Info Swap Towers, Coat of Arms has all sorts of foods sourced from the nations that make up the British Commonwealth and even further afield. But it is the poutine – french fries topped with aged cheddar cheese and a light gravy – that is the pick of the bunch.
It’s also a great place to watch sports (it was where I spent my entire soccer World Cup in 2018). I’ve been going there since it opened, and it’s always a cool place to hang out, meet people – local and expat alike – and kick back with a beer or twelve. But hey, that’s just me.
Okay, I’ve got a question for you: What’s more of a Nagoya icon than Shooters? The castle? Okay, fair enough. TV Tower? Sure. Terrible drivers? Hmmm, you’re scraping the barrel now, aren’t you? But the point I’m trying to make is that Shooters is a Nagoya institution, so much so that it even appears in the Tom Selleck movie Mr. Baseball.
This city’s closest thing to a true blue American sports bar, Shooters does ice-cold beer, top-notch food, has sports on TV, pool and Fussball tables, and a shot list as long as a giraffe’s arm. Oh, and don’t miss ribs night, because [adopts a Homer Simpson voice] if you do…
Back in 2017, Robb Shannon had a dream to recreate his childhood days, a time when his grandfather would fire up the smoker, the scent of barbecue would fill the air, and his uncle would mount a full pig on the spit. From that day, Robb had a dream, and Midtown BBQ is the culmination of that.
I first met Robb when he opened his previous restaurant, Sienna, which served the best burger in Nagoya. It was great, but sparks flew in Robb’s head and the patrons’ mouths alike when they had their BBQ nights. Now he has the best, most authentic barbecue spot in Nagoya, plus an additional restaurant in Yokohama, and their sauce is even sold in Costco to Robb’s own tried-and-trusted recipe. But you don’t need to go to Costco; you can go to the source. (Come on, that was a good joke, right? No? reread it out loud. Still no? Phew, tough crowd)
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. ‘Poutine, ribs, and barbecue? Don’t you ever eat anything healthy, Mark?’ To which I reply, ‘who are you, my mother?’ (Oh, and if you are, hi, mum! Did you get your birthday card yet? No? Tsk, must be Royal Mail’s fault because I definitely sent it) Actually, no, I don’t, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t.
Queen’s Healthy Diner is Nagoya’s best vegan restaurant, run by Nagoya’s famed hip hop star Vinny Vintage and, more importantly, his wife, the eponymous Queen. Now, in full disclosure, I’ve never visited myself, but my editor Ray, he who must be obeyed, has been numerous times and raves about the place. They do an excellent Penne Arrabbiata, and of course, there are some delicious fresh salads, but they also put together some mouthwatering non-meat meaty dishes. Vegetarian chicken burritos? Delicious. Vegan chicken pizza? Impossible to tell from the real thing. Tonkatsu ramen? Yes, seriously, vegan tonkatsu ramen, and from what I’ve heard, it’s oishiiii!
Editors Note: I do insist on being obeyed, it’s true. The burritos here are the thing wherein she’s caught the attention of the King! But it’s all excellent, pricy, as vegan food is, but excellent, and the proprietor is among the best hosts in town, in my opinion, second only to my man Eddie at Links Bar. You might drop-in for the food, but you will come back to say hi to the staff, guaranteed. Be sure to check out the hot sauce selection; it rivals mine!
Image: by MIKI Yoshihito via flickr.com [CC BY 2.0] – modified
Image: by Jun Kano via facebook.com
The post Our House! – We More Than Recommend These Restaurants in Nagoya first appeared on H&R Group K.K.. Source
While stereotype would have it that the Japanese are all nothing but green tea fiends, if you look around, there can be no doubt that the nation is, in fact, run on coffee, with everyone from salarymen to schoolgirls (there go those stereotypes again) chugging down the stuff throughout the day.
In the past, coffee in Japan was considered a medicinal pick me up rather than something to be enjoyed, but in recent years, chains such as Starbucks, Pronto, and Doutour found on every high street. With convenience stores and even vending machines dispensing it on every corner, coffee culture has exploded in Japan, and there is no shortage of joe to go around.
However, for those of you who think that you can’t call canned coffee ‘coffee,’ or if you have a Kleinian aversion to large multi-national chains, then it’s been pretty difficult to get a decent cup. Fortunately, the tide is changing as the last few years have seen something of a coffee revolution in Japan. And even in Nagoya, where Komeda has been king for so long, there are some excellent coffee shops to choose from. Below are a few of our favorites.
Nagoya-born Shima-san had one dream as a child, and that was opening a cafe of his very own. As he grew up, he spent his formative years working as a barista around his hometown and Gifu before decamping to one of the great homes of coffee culture: Melbourne, Australia.
Upon returning to his hometown, he opened QOL – which stands for Quality of Life – where he serves some of the world’s best coffee (his claim), roasted in house. As well as drinking on the property, you can pick up some beans for yourself to attempt to mimic Shima-san’s mastery at home.
Editor’s note, this place is good except the owner refuses to make a macchiato, insisting I order a “flat white,” which is a lot more milk. It is annoying, but the shop is good.
The original Glitch was opened in Tokyo’s Jimbocho, an area famed for its antique shops, bookstores, and, above all, its coffee culture, which probably tells you all you know about the sort of coffee that you’ll get here. With beans from Ethiopia and Panama, amongst others, they have a range of fruity coffees, with espressos and pour-over brews their real specialties.
The shop itself is a little on the spartan side and isn’t all that homely, but the coffee makes up for that. They are also connected to a capsule hotel above it, though with all that caffeine, you probably won’t be all that sleepy!
The concept behind ROWS is that it is easy to drop in as it is just down your street (the ‘row’ meaning a street, as opposed to going in there to have a blazing argument), and it is a pretty comfortable little shop. With its pale, pine interior, it is always light and airy, no matter the weather outside, and the staff is always welcoming.
The joe they have on offer includes two of their original blends that you won’t find elsewhere: the strong and rich, French-inspired ‘ROWS Blend’; and the fruity, refined ‘Nagono Blend.’ And if you fancy something a little stronger, they also have a beer or two…
There are three branches of Trunk so far (they seem to be under constant expansion) but in my opinion, the original in Takaoka is the best. Using single blend beans from some of the world’s rarest, top quality beans, Trunk roasts their beans in-house for guaranteed freshness.
The decor is ramshackle in a charming, homely way, but the best thing is that many of the staff speak English. Oh, and you can get Japanese craft beer too.
Editor’s note, this place is good, except their blend is quite bitter. If that is your thing, you will definitely be into this place. Good shop, just not my thing.
Boldly claiming to brew ‘the best coffee in town,’ three The Cups around the city, in Nagoya Station, Fushimi and Sakae, and another on the Yamazaki riverside. While the latter is amazing for cherry blossom season, the others are probably more accessible, and Fushimi is the original.
Besides hand drip, you can get an excellent espresso, American press, and cold brew. I’d recommend getting a double espresso and pairing it with one of their amazing gelatos or parfaits.
Editor’s note, this place is overpriced, overly fancy, garbage.
Magni’s Coffee Truck is probably my favorite coffee place in Nagoya, and not just because it’s right next to my apartment. Fujisawa-san spent four years in Germany, where his love for coffee percolated. Upon returning to Japan, he kits out his 1967 Wagenbus into a coffee and cocktail bar and named after an old German town renowned for its fusion of tradition and new trends.
Drip coffee and espressos are specialties, he makes a mean mojito, and he has a stock of German beer. But what I like most is that it is open-air in a busy Meieki thoroughfare, so that you can sit outside and meet a whole load of cool guys and girls who rock up. It’s an awesome atmosphere.
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